Is termite damage covered by my homeowners insurance policy?

25 Aug

Discovering termites in your home is never fun. These wood-eating insects cause around $5 billion in property damage every year and unfortunately this damage is not covered by homeowners insurance, except in rare cases. Homeowners insurance is designed to deal with sudden and unexpected losses and damage, termite damage, because it often happens over months or years is not a covered peril with a standard homeowner policy. 

Termite damage is not covered by homeowners insurance

Homeowners insurance deals with sudden and accidental losses and termite damage doesn’t fit into that category as the damage can take months or years to cause major issues with the home or structural damage. Termite damage is usually considered a maintenance issue by insurance companies, the damage could have been prevented by routine maintenance done at your home. 

Here are the most common perils covered by a homeowners policy:

  • Fire
  • Smoke
  • Windstorms
  • Lightning Strikes
  • Hail
  • Explosions
  • Theft
  • Vehicle collision
  • Certain water damage

Perils that are excluded from most homeowner policies:

  • Earthquakes
  • Floods
  • Power failures
  • Neglect
  • Mischievous acts
  • Bed bugs
  • Termites
  • Mold
  • Sinkholes

Termites, carpenter ants and bees as well as bedbugs are usually excluded as insurers consider them to be a preventable issue and termite damage often occurs because of neglect. As an example, it is impossible to prevent a lightning strike that sparks a fire which damages or destroys your home, however, a termite infestation will grow over months and even years, and in most cases can be discovered via routine home maintenance. 

The fact that termite damage is excluded from coverage means that the cost to repair any damage caused by termites will fall to you. This can include structural damage to your home as well as any personal possessions such as furniture, clothing, even electronics that are damage by termites. 

Termite damage may be covered, in very specific circumstances

There are some very specific situations where termite damage may be covered, but it’s usually a long shot. As an example, if a termite chews through an electrical wire which causes a fire, in most circumstances, your insurer would cover the damage done by the fire. 

You will have to convince your insurance company that the damage was caused by a covered peril and not the termites, but it is possible that under the right circumstances, termite damage may be covered. 

Do I have termites?

Termites are more common in a warm and humid climate, but they can be found in other climates as well. Termites love wood, cardboard, cotton and paper and can do a tremendous amount of damage over time. 

Here are the most common places you should check for termites and termite damage:

  • Walls and wallpaper
  • Support beams
  • Cabinets
  • Floors
  • Ceiling
  • Furniture
  • Carpet

If you are shopping for a new home and are find evidence of termite damage you should ask the seller to have an inspection done and pay for the cost of extermination. If the inspection finds widespread termite damage it is probably best to start looking at other homes. 

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